The letter a 12-year-old girl intended only for herself gained national recognition when her parents found it in her belongings and shared its inspiring message online.
Taylor Smith died in early January due to complications from pneumonia, leaving her mother, father and older brother.
While cleaning up her room, Tim and Mary Ellen Smith found the letter Taylor wrote for her future self and intended to open in 2023. Tim and Mary Ellen shared her message with the hope their daughter would continue to inspire others.
“[We’ve gotten] letters from lots of parents who’ve said it’s encouraged them to love their kids and love each other,” Mary Ellen Smith told TODAY.
Taylor’s love of God is clear from her words in the letter and a homemade journal. Her childlike innocence is juxtaposed with wisdom that seems greater than that of most 12 year olds.
“I’ve noticed lately that when I spent time with the Lord I felt pumped and alive. I’m still on fire for the Lord, just in a different way. I’m truly in Love! I feel the greatest joy and admiration and adorance (sic) now! Something no human being could ever give me. He is Holy!” she wrote in the "Adventure Time"-themed journal.
It’s these powerful feelings that now help her parents get through the difficult time they face without their daughter.
"If it's God's time, it's God's time, and he loved her more than we could ever love her. So much so that he said 'come on,’ ” Tim Smith told WJHL-TV. "A lot of people are probably wondering why it's so easy for a father who's just lost his daughter to say something like that, to not curse God, to not hate God, the only thing I can say is that right now it's easy for me to trust God because my baby girl trusted him."
While it might be easy for Tim Smith to trust God, the situation hasn't been easy for the family.
"Initially it's shock, and waves of depression, and hoping that it's not real, and hoping that every time you take a nap or go to sleep you find out it wasn't real," Tim Smith also told WJHL-TV.
Taylor made it clear that she was the only person allowed to open the letter, “unless said otherwise.” She wrote “confidential” and “Taylor’s eyes only” across the envelope. But instead of finding secrets the girl needed to keep hidden, her parents discovered touching insights from their daughter.
The letter shows Taylor's ambition as she encourages herself to get her high school degree and shares her aspirations to become a lawyer.
She also shows a passion for her religious beliefs, talking about her first mission trip and checking in on her future faith.
“How’s your relationship with God? Have you prayed, worshipped, read the Bible, or gone to serve the Lord recently? If not, get up and do so NOW! I don’t care what point in our life we’re in right now, do it!”
Her spiritual musings are intermingled with the concerns of any 12-year-old: growing up, "Doctor Who," and the amusement park Dollywood.
She closed the letter with a profound and forward-looking statement.
“But remember, it’s been 10 years since I wrote this. Stuff has happened, good and bad. That’s just how life works, and you have to go with it.”
Alison Moore is a writer for the Faith and Family sections at DeseretNews.com. She is working toward a bachelor's degree in communications with an emphasis in journalism and a minor in editing at Brigham Young University.